Lazy Saturday Review: Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead

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Title: Shadow Kiss
Author: Richelle Mead
Series: Vampire Academy #3
Edition: Paperback, 460 pages
Publication Details: November 13th 2008 by Razorbil
Genre(s): YA; Paranormal Romance
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it.

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Purchase

It’s springtime at St. Vladimir’s Academy, and Rose Hathaway is this close to graduation. Since Mason’s death, Rose hasn’t been feeling quite right. She has dark flashbacks in the middle of practice, can’t concentrate in class, and has terrifying dreams about Lissa. But Rose has an even “bigger” secret . . . .She’s in love with Dimitri. And this time, it’s way more than a crush. Then Strigoi target the academy in the deadliest attack in Moroi history, and Dimitri is taken. Rose must protect Lissa at all costs, but keeping her best friend safe could mean losing Dimitri forever…

These books will be the death of me. I swear not a lot happens for 300 pages and then BAM just before the end Richelle Mead hits us with a brick and makes it impossible to not buy the next book. What’s up with that!?

In this, the third book in the series, everyone is concentrating on graduating to become fully fledged Moroi Guardians, or for the Moroi themselves (vampire royalty) just staying alive long enough to be assigned on of the said guardians.

A lot of the story surrounds the last test for the trainees, a six week long field experiment where they’re assigned a Moroi to protect and can be attacked at any time by the guardian teachers pretending to be the crazy, murderous vamps known as Strigoi. Rose can’t wait to prove herself, but one thing is getting in the way – Mason’s ghost, and he’s not the only thing she is seeing.

I enjoyed Shadow Kiss. It just sort of ambled along nice and pleasantly for a while and then the shit hit the fan and I have no words. Mead upped the ante in respect of the action, and the romance, and I need to know what’s going to happen next with Dimitri and Rose, and Adrian and Lissa. Ahh too many good characters!

The more I read of this series, the more it stands out in the vampire genre. There’s definitely a lot more to it than you’d think, but I feel like the plots are getting thinner as it goes on.

unicorn rating 3

The Vampire Academy Series is available in paperback from Waterstones now.

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Friday Feature: 2014 Challenges Update

I’ve been putting off doing this post because I am failing SO HARD on all of the challenges I set myself at the beginning of the year. Crappola.

Here is the progress I’ve made so far this year (AUGUST…REALLY?):

The TBR Pile Reading Challenge

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I signed up for this challenge to get through all of the books that have been sitting on my shelves for ages, some for up to 5 years, but at the time I’d just received loads of books for Christmas and my birthday so I decided to make a rule that only the books that had been on my shelf for over 4 months would count towards it. What a mistake that was!

Obviously I read all my shiny new books first, hence my ridiculously bad start! But luckily I only went for the 11-20 level, so I can still make it, right?

TBR Pile Challenge Books Read: 4

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen, 3/5
The Princess Bride by William Goldman, 4/5
The Prisoner of Brenda by Bateman, 3/5
The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Mass, 4/5

Rereads Challenge

REREAD

Since I started blogging, one of main thing I miss doing is rereading my favourite books. I used to reread a lot, but it’s hard to find the time when there are so many new books coming out all the time. Hence, this challenge. I challenged myself to reread 10 books and I did a poll to decide.

I doubt I’m going to complete this challenge by the end of the year, but I’m going to pull my socks up, I promise!

Reread Books Read: 2
Northern Lights by Philip Pullman, 4/5
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, 4/5 – I’ve just realised I STILL haven’t reviewed this.

Once Upon a Time VIII

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I signed up for this very loosely termed ‘challenge’ at some point because it sounded so much fun. Thankfully I went for the minimum participation which was to read one book that falls into the categories of Fairy Tale, Folklore, Fantasy or Mythology, and to read (or watch) A Midsummer Night’s Dream in June. I kind of forgot about that, but I’m hoping if I read it while it’s still summer it won’t be held against me.

I am also currently reading Godmother by Carolyn Turgeon, which will fulfill the Fairy Tale requirement.

Must.Try.Harder

Goodreads Challenge

2014 Reading Challenge

2014 Reading Challenge
Lauren has
read 44 books toward her goal of 70 books.
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In better news I am 3 books ahead on my overall book challenge for the year. Hurrah!

Lazy Saturday Review: The Assassin’s Blade

TBR

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Title: The Assassin’s Blade
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass (The Novellas, #0.1- #0.5)
Edition: Paperback, 437 pages
Published: March 13th 2014 by Bloomsbury Childrens
Genre(s): YA; Fantasy
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it!
Goodreads
Purchase

Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan’s most feared assassin. As part of the Assassin’s Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam. In these action-packed novellas – together in one edition for the first time – Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous. But she is acting against Arobynn’s orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery. Will Celaena ever be truly free? Explore the dark underworld of this kick-ass heroine to find out.

This has been at the top of my TBR pile since it came out in March. I’m totally in love with the series, but something was putting me off reading it. I’m not really a fan of novellas. I feel the same way about them as I do about short stories – I just don’t see the point. I prefer something more substantial that I can sink my teeth into.

However, I really loved this collection. It was hard not to. Not only do we get to witness all the events leading up to Celaena’s incarceration in the salt mines where the first book begins, but we also get to see the more human side of her too – her first love, Sam.

I think the reason why I loved this so much was that it was basically just a novel. Each novella carries on where the last one left off so it didn’t feel like five short stories at all. That being said, there were a few I could give or take. The first novella, The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, was good for background and context, but I wasn’t hooked. And the second one, the shortest of them all at just 40 pages was entertaining enough but not really vital to the character arcs.

It’s when we get to The Assassin and the Desert that things get really interesting and there was no looking back after that.

Celaena is such a great, complex character, and although on the surface she might just seem like another kick-ass YA heroine, I think there is something unique about her. I can’t wait until the 3rd novel, Heir of Fire is released next month!

The Throne of Glass series is available in paperback from Waterstones. Click here to see how you can get 10% off.

A Predictable Prince is still a Page-Turning Prince…

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

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I can’t believe that this is THE FIRST book I’ve read from my TBR pile for this challenge. I was excluding all the new books I got around Christmas and New Year time because the whole point was to read the older books on my pile….and it’s taken this long to get round to them. And still, this was one of the newer ones, but shhh.

false In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point — he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner’s sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

An extraordinary adventure filled with danger and action, lies and deadly truths that will have readers clinging to the edge of their seats.

This is one of those books that does exactly what it says on the tin, or cover in this instance. Sage is one of four boys that nobleman Conner forces to compete against each other for the ‘prize’ of impersonating Prince Jaron – who was believed to have been killed by pirates several years earlier – in an attempt to save the Kingdom from war.

I was really excited about this book; it looked right up my alley, princes, castles, sword-fights, cute boys etc… and I loved it for all of these things, plus, it was fast-paced and I enjoyed the characters, but, I couldn’t help coming away from it disappointed.

I had too many issues with it to give it any more than 3 Unicorns, despite the fact that I couldn’t put it down and am very much looking forward to the next book in the series…

Issue #1: It was just sooooooooooo predictable. I’m not one of those people who thinks about where a book is going when I’m reading it. I like to be swept away in the story, and therefore I don’t usually detect what will happen next, or how it will end up, but it was impossible not to with this book. I could have told you exactly what was going to happen after about 50 pages.

Issue #2: I found some of the vital plot-lines pretty unbelievable. There was no way that Conner’s plan was ever going to work, which was proven by the end of the book, highlighting how stupid it was in the first place. Plus, there’s no way the four boys would be that compliant, sure Conner had threatened to kill those that didn’t win, but they had plenty of opportunities to escape. And if they stayed because they really wanted to be King, they seemed to think they could go from being being poor orphans to kings without anybody rising an eyebrow. Bizarre. And don’t even get me started on Conner having them serve the princess in disguise, in case she recognised them when one of them eventually became King….no sense!

Issue # 3: Who the hell is Conner anyway, and why take it upon himself to stage this whole thing? Arrghhhh.

I did like that we weren’t sure if Conner was essentially a good guy or bad guy though. Was he really doing this for the good of the kingdom, or is he a tyrant who will do anything to be in control, even if he’d be the invisible puppet-master behind ‘the face’ of the King?

Sage was a good protagonist too. I liked his sarcastic nature and sharp wit. His bromance with Mott, and growing relationship with servant Imogen (the whole fake mute thing was unconvincing though) definitely kept me reading. I just wished there was more depth, and mystery to the story.

But I guess I’ll have to read the next one to see if Nielsen was holding out on us. Plus, look how pretty it is!

unicorn rating 3

Disclosure?: Nope, I bought it!
Title: The False Prince (The Ascendence Trilogy #1)
Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen
Details: Paperback, 368 pages
Published: June 7th 2012 by Scholastic UK
My Rating: 3/5 (3.5!)

Once Upon a Time: Join the Quest!

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Yesterday I came across a new challenge on the lovely Lynn’s blog, and while I have done pretty rubbish in the challenges I set myself at the start of the year, I’m signing up.

But it’s OK, because Once Upon a Time uses the term ‘challenge’ pretty loosely and you can sign up just for ‘The Journey’….

Once Upon a Time is brought to us by Carl over at Stainless Steel Droppings, and is in its 8th year. It’s ‘a reading and viewing event that encompasses four broad categories: Fairy Tale, Folklore, Fantasy and Mythology, including the seemingly countless sub-genres and blending of genres that fall within this spectrum.’ It runs from March 21st to June 21st and you can sign up for minimal participation (1 book) in ‘The Journey’ or five other quests. Check out the original post on Stainless Steel Droppings for more info or to sign up.

I’m going for Quest the Third because I’ve been wanting to reread some Shakespeare for some time, and this is the perfect encouragement.

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Fulfill the requirements for The Journey or Quest the First or Quest the Second AND top it off with a June reading of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream OR a viewing of one of the many theatrical versions of the play.

So I’ll be doing The Journey (1 book min.) – even though I have quite a few books that would fall into these categories on my TBR list – because I just don’t want to commit to more given my bad start to the year where other challenges are concerned, and reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream in June. Fun!

Be one of us…

Rereads Challenge Review: Northern Lights (The Golden Compass) by Phillip Pullman

REREAD

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When Lyra’s friend Roger disappears, she and her dæmon, Pantalaimon, determine to find him.

The ensuing quest leads them to the bleak splendour of the North, where armoured bears rule the ice and witch-queens fly through the frozen skies – and where a team of scientists is conducting experiments too horrible to be spoken about.

Lyra overcomes these strange terrors, only to find something yet more perilous waiting for her – something with consequences which may even reach beyond the Northern Lights…

I’ve always thought of Northern Lights as one of my childhood favorites even though I had only read it twice. The last time was probably when I was about 16 – almost 15 years ago (EEEEEK) – so it was long due a reread. Added to that, I went off on an adventure of my own in the hope of seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland, so I thought it would be the perfect book to get me excited about it.

Unfortunately, the beginning of the book felt more like a chore this time round. It’s funny how you always remember the good parts (Lovely Lyra, the badassness of Iorek Byronison, the magical descriptions of the arctic and the Aurora) but forget the bad parts (the slow pace and drawn-out plot).

But thankfully, my disappointment didn’t last too long. I’m pretty sure the reason I fell in love with this book when I was younger wasn’t just the fantasy, magical elements of it, but Lyra herself. She’s such a great protagonist. She’s inherently good and powerful but she doesn’t know it. She has no idea of her potential but runs on the simple instinct to do what’s right and to help the best she can. In the beginning her only motivation is to save Roger and a longing to explore the north, but little did she know where it would lead her.

I probably missed a some of the underlying themes in this series the first time round. It’s infamous for being anti-religious (or at least void of Christianity) much like the Narnia books are infamous for their not-so-subtle Christian themes, but that wasn’t what was new to me this time around. I’d somehow missed the onslaught political and racial commentary.

Also, it’s totally Steampunk, right?

All that aside, by the middle of this, I was hooked again, I stopped peeling back the layers and just enjoyed the story of a plucky girl and her daemon (oh how I wanted my own daemon growing up – OK I still do!) on a thrilling adventure to the arctic to save her best friend and find out the truth about the family that disowned her.

And it’s dark, really dark – with the human experiments, kidnappings and gory deaths…

And as he said that, the Aurora flickered and dimmed, like an anbaric bulb at the end of its life, and then went out altogether. In the gloom, though, Lyra sensed the presence of the Dust, for the air seemed to be full of dark intentions, like the forms of thoughts not yet formed”

Perfect!

I’m so glad I can still call it a favourite.

unicorn rating 4

Disclosure?: Nope, I own it.
Title: Northern Lights (His Dark Materials #1)
Author: Phillip Pullman
Details: Paperback, 399 pages
Publication Date: October 23rd 1998 by Scholastic Point (first published 1995)
My Rating: 4/5

Rereads Challenge Kick Off & Poll Results

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January was a good month reading wise, but I totally failed on starting most of my challenges. However, February is the month!

A few weeks ago asked the blogosphere for help in choosing two books to complete a list of 10 that I plan on rereading this year (you can check out my original post here if you missed it) .

The results are in:

The Time Travellers Wife by Audrey Niffennegger 40%

The Gates by John Connolly 20%

A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon 13.33%

The 10th Kingdom by Kathryn Wesley 13.33%

The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas 6.67%

The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman 6.67%

Thank you so much to everyone who voted!

So, here is my final list of rereads. I’m not doing them in order or anything but I’ve just started Northern Lights. Whoop!

  1.  Northern Lights (His Dark Materials #1) by Phillip Pullman
  2.  Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
  3.  Peter Pan by J.M Barrie
  4.  Sunshine by Robin Mckinley
  5.  The Final Testament of the Holy Bible by James Frey
  6.  The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffennegger
  7.  The Gates by John Connolly
  8. – 10.  The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins